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In my last message, we discovered that God is all about abundance. The first commandment He gave us was to ‘multiply’!
We also learned that, as believers, we have a responsibility to live in abundance. It’s not something that’s for some people and not others. It’s God’s plan for each and every one of us.
Now that the Word has convinced you that abundance is for you, let’s talk about the things that are going to keep you from it. Because as you know, the enemy is going to try to keep you from the things of God.
But the good news is, we can uncover his sorry plan and overcome it with the Word of God.
Abundance Blocker #1: Lack of Contentment
1 Timothy 6:6-8 NLT – True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
When reading this scripture, you may imagine an impoverished life. One where you have just enough food to survive and maybe a few changes of clothes so you don’t have to walk around stinky or naked.
Considering we’ve been taught Christians are supposed to be poor, this scripture seems to confirm it. But, what’s interesting is that the original Greek word for content (arkeo) means ‘to be possessed of unfailing strength’.
I’ve never known someone living in poverty to appear to be possessed of unfailing strength. When I lived with barely enough to pay the bills, my life sure wasn’t displaying strength. Actually, I felt quite insecure.
Let’s continue on with this section of scripture so the truth can really come alive.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT – But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
So this is contrast of the content person we are supposed to be.
- “People who long to be rich” – When you long for something, you can’t get your mind off it. It’s all you can think about.
- “Craving money” – Think of a pregnant woman craving something to eat. Nothing is going to stop her from getting it. So, when you crave money, nothing is going to stop you from getting it, even if you have to take advantage of others.
You’d think people who devote their lives to money, like this, would end up with a lot of it. But according to this scripture, it just ends in ruin and destruction. Not a good destination if you ask me.
So, what’s the point here? Does God want us to live in poverty? No. Here’s the whole point of this scripture:
God wants us to be content regardless of our financial state.
In other words, our contentment should in no way be tied to money.
Yet, we tend to put our contentment somewhere in the future when we have more money. “I’ll be happy when I have a bigger house.” “I’ll be happy when I have a brand new car.” “I’ll be happy when my kitchen is renovated.”
But what we have to realize is, it’s these very things that rob us of God’s plan for abundance in our lives. He needs us to get to a place where we are content, not because we have a lot of money, but because we are rooted and grounded in Him.
When we were a few months away from having our second baby, Beth and I realized the need for a different home. The house we were in had plenty of room to raise a family, but the problem was, I also ran my business out of the house. Having my office right next to the kid’s bedroom just wasn’t working out.
So, we found the perfect house where the upstairs could be my office and the downstairs could be where we lived, providing much-needed separation between the two spaces. And it was seated on this plot of land that I seriously believe God designed just for me.
Only problem was, the price was a little out of my comfort zone. I ran the numbers over and over, and it fit in the budget, but I can be a little bit of a tightwad. So, I was balancing out, do I let the business suffer or do I invest in a better space so my business can flourish.
Before putting in an offer, I remember asking Beth, “If we get this house and for some reason down the line are unable to pay for it, will it be devastating for you to have to move to something smaller?”
I didn’t know it at the time, but this is a question God was using to measure our source of contentment. Did it come from the home that we lived in, or was it rooted in Him?
We learned earlier that contentment is synonymous with unfailing strength.
When our contentment is sourced in God, not in what we own or how big our bank account is, our life is a walking billboard of strength. That in itself is a life of abundance.
Don’t misunderstand. This scripture does not say that Christians can’t live in financial abundance. But, if your contentment comes from money or you are waiting to be content until you have more money, that’s probably the very thing that is keeping you from financial abundance.
Pursue contentment in Christ and financial abundance will be a side effect.
Abundance Blocker #2: Comparison
I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NKJV – …aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside (unbelievers), and that you may lack nothing.
Have you ever noticed how life tends to be a comparison game?
When someone asks what you do for a living, in most cases, they just want to figure out if they have a better job than you or not. The most intense game of comparison revolves around parents talking about their kids. “My kids plays football and makes straight A’s. What does yours do?” “My baby started crawling at 6 months, has your’s started yet?”
This reminds me of a story of two siblings. One was always ahead of what doctors deem as ‘normal development’. They were at the top of the growth charts, they talked early. They even knew the entire alphabet and could write several letters by the time they were two and a half.
The other seemed to be falling behind. Their weight kept falling lower and lower on the growth chart. It was time for them to crawl, according to what is “normal”, but they just didn’t seem interested. They were content to just chill.
This is the story of my two girls, Leanna and Adalynn.
Beth and I were just having a discussion about how hard it is not to compare Adalynn’s growth to Leanna’s. We’ll catch ourselves looking back at pictures and videos of Leanna when she was Adalynn’s age and realizing how much faster Leanna seemed to progress.
For example, at 9 months old, Leanna was in 18-month clothes. Adalynn, on the other hand, is in 9-month clothes with room to spare.
During our discussion, Beth and I realized that this is our chance to learn not to compare one kid with the other. Every one of our kids will have their own strengths. Every kid will be different, and this should be celebrated, not used for comparison.
With this in mind, let’s go back and read the first part of that verse.
I Thessalonians 4:11 NKJV – …aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands.
The is explaining a life where we don’t measure ourselves by other people. Because, when we compare ourselves, we limit what God wants to do in our life.
We tend to look to our parents, or television, or other people to show us how we should live, but the only thing we should be looking at is the Word of God.
Comparison tricks us into thinking God’s blessings are in limited supply. When they win, you lose, right? Comparison also pulls us in to what is going on around us. If there’s a recession, then you have to participate, right? If your grandpa died of heart disease, then the same thing is going to happen to you, right?
No! We have a choice. We can live according to the world’s systems, tagging along with their recession, accepting the flu because everyone else gets it, or we can live according to God’s system.
Heaven doesn’t go through recessions. Heaven doesn’t have a flu season. In Heaven, they don’t hand down heart disease and cancer. The problem is, we believe what the news says more than we believe what the Word of God says.
So, when there’s a recession, we cut back our giving because we might need that money. But, according to God’s system, this is the worst thing we can do.
God’s system says you have to sow to reap a harvest. The world’s system says you have to hoard so you don’t run out. So if a recession hits, the best way for you to step out of the worlds system and into God’s is to increase your giving. That’s a bonus tip.
Remember how we just talked about the importance of contentment? Well, here’s what’s interesting.
Comparison is out to steal your contentment.
If you’re busy comparing yourself to others, when they get a better car than you, it’s going to steal your contentment.
And when you lose your contentment, you step out of God’s plan for abundance and into the world’s attempt at abundance, and all it ends in is a crapload of debt, insecurity, and disappointment.
Comparison is a trap and there is nothing beneficial about it.
Refuse to measure yourself against others. Don’t allow yourself to feel inferior around those who think they are better than you.
I don’t care if they live in a house 10x the size of yours, or if they are a successful business owner, or doctor, or multi-millionaire. You walk up to them knowing that you are just as valuable as they are.
It doesn’t matter if they believe it or not, you believe it because it’s what the Word of God says about you.
On the flip side, don’t even entertain the thought that you are better than someone else. There’s always going to be someone who has less that you or is missing a skill that you have. But, you are not better than them.
And here’s why we mind our own business, work with our own hands, and stop the comparison game:
I Thessalonians 4:12 NKJV – …that you may walk properly toward those who are outside (unbelievers), and that you may lack nothing.
Abundance Blocker #3: Debt
A study by Pew Charitable Trusts found that 8 out of 10 Americans hold some form of debt. 7 out of 10 believe that debt is necessary, but would prefer not to have it. Yet, 85% of those with debt use it to live beyond their means.
Get this: Although most Americans consider debt a necessity in their own lives, they view it as a negative force in the lives of others.
The bottom line is, we want stuff we can’t afford. And debt allows us to get it – and get it right now.
Remember our talk on contentment regardless of our financial state? It is now becoming clear that all the prosperity thieves we are talking about today lead back to a lack of contentment.
The biggest wealth killer today is the beloved car payment.
We LOVE our cars, and we LOVE to take out loans so we can get the car we want. After all, everyone has a car payment, right?
The average car payment is $475 on a six-year loan. Then, before we actually pay it off, we trade it in for a massive loss on what we originally paid for it and then take out another loan on another new car. And the payment continues.
But, if we would have invested the $475 into a good growth stock mutual fund, you would have over $100k in 10 years. Keep it going for 20 years and you’d have $470k. What about 30 years? $1.6 million!
Instead, over that 30 years, the average American would have financed about 4 cars, totaling around $104k plus an additional $50-60k in interest. In other words, you left about $1.6 million on the table at the end of this 30 years because you decided to drive new cars instead of investing. As Dave Ramsey would say, “I hope you like the car.”
Proverbs 22:7 NLT – Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
We go into debt to try to find contentment. And in the process, we give up our freedom. The worst thing is, what we went into debt for may bring a few moments of the feel-goods, but it doesn’t last long. In the end, it’s a lose-lose.
So how do you get out of debt?
First step is to stop adding more debt. Cut up the credit cards, commit to only buying cars with cash, don’t take out loans for furniture or anything else. If you don’t have cash to buy it, don’t buy it.
To pay off your existing debt, go to nolimits.church/debtsnowball. This will lead you to an article by Dave Ramsey that will walk you through the best process for getting out of debt.
Abundance Blocker #4: Lack of Focus
Proverbs 21:5 AMP – The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, But everyone who acts in haste (unnecessary, thoughtless, quick action) comes surely to poverty.
The Hebrew word for ‘plans’ also means: curious work, imagination, invention.
The Hebrew word for ‘diligent’ also means: determination, sharp-pointed, a trench that’s been dug out.
In other words, the curious work of those who stay focused will surely lead them to abundance and advantage.
On the other hand, those who just live life on a whim, buying whatever they want, jumping from job to job, end up in poverty. This may be a normal thing to do, but it is not God’s plan for you life.
Creative Ideas + Intense Focus = Abundance
God wants to pour creative ideas into you. He wants your work to be full of purpose, full of curiosity and imagination, and fully focused.
Problem is, we get busy working jobs we don’t really like to pay for things we can’t afford. All because that is what everyone else is doing.
In Andrew Wommack’s book, Don’t Limit God, he says, “If you’re not excited about getting up on Monday and going to work, or if you get excited on Friday because you don’t have to work the next two days, you haven’t found God’s will for your life.”
The world’s system says you’ve made it when you get an 8-5 job, Monday-Friday, 2-weeks of vacation pay. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it’s just what we do.
In the world’s system, you have to trade in your dreams for this so-called security in a steady paycheck.
During my first year at Rhema Bible School, I realized the importance of Beth attending as well. At this point, she was the sole provider of our home, holding down a really stable 8-5 job.
We met for lunch one day and I pretty much told her she was going to quit her job and go to Rhema when the next school year started. She thought I was crazy, but I didn’t really give her a choice. I felt that strongly about it.
One day I was at the church cleaning when we were a mile down the street and I noticed a new business was going in next to us. I walked over there and asked the owner if he was looking for any part-time work.
That day, I got Beth a job that would work with her school schedule and even pay more per hour than she was receiving at the time. It was like God orchestrated the whole thing. She quit her job, started the new job and started school. She even ended up liking the new job better than her previous job!
And then one day, Beth walked it to work after school and her boss said the business was closing and to never come back. Turns out, her boss was embezzling money and the IRS found out.
Wait. Wasn’t this the ideal job that God has orchestrated? How could God let this happen to two people who were in Bible school?
But you know what we learned from this situation? That the world’s system only provides a false sense of security, yet they ask you to give up on your dreams, what you are called to do, in return.
Sounds like a crappy deal to me. So how do you get out?
Stop the business.
Stop the unnecessary, thoughtless, and quick action. Take your quieted mind before God and ask Him to pour in His plan for you life.
Take time to imagine the type of work that brings you fulfillment, peace and joy. Because this is the work God has called you to.
Then, get determined and focused. Keep doing what you are called to do and trust God for the provision. Even when it seems like it is not working, stay focused, don’t stop.
Remember what we just read: The curious work of those who stay focused will surely lead them to abundance and advantage.
It all leads back to contentment.
When you’re doing something you are not called to do just to earn a paycheck, you lack contentment. So you buy things you can’t afford to try to find contentment and all you end up with is a load of debt.
You compare yourself to others, hoping this will make you feel better about yourself, and just end up with more discontentment.
And a lack of contentment is the very things that keeps us from experiencing abundance.
To bring it all together, let’s re-read the scripture we started with.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 NLT – True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
Be content regardless of your financial state. It’s a choice and one that you will have to make daily until it becomes a new way of life.
Contentment is a prerequisite to abundance. You have to find contentment through Christ first before God can pour abundance into your life.